A New Norm of Greatness MLK

Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness…. It means that everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.
— Martin Luther King Jr., “Drum Major Instinct”, last sermon 4 Feb 1968.

Martin Luther King is giving us the short version about servant ministry, which Bishop Bennett Sims wrote about in 1997 in his landmark book, Servanthood, Leadership for the Third Millennium.  Our worthiness has nothing to do with our IQ.  Being a servant leader is completely different from being the smartest, working to become the greatest, needing to control or needing the admiration of others because of your abilities.  Servant leaders make room for and empower others, work to build up others, not to polish the system or the leader’s self-importance. A servant leader does not see production as the first purpose of any family system, endeavor, church, or business. Human enhancement, not human employment, is the primary aim of organizations led by servant leaders. Meaning and joy in work comes from power with, not power over. Sims describes collaboration with others as the “meat and potatoes” of human nourishment while competition is the “salt and pepper.” He believes our society has been living on “spices”.